Right now, tents and sleeping bags all across the country are being given the once-over. Boots are being cleaned and good flashlights sourced. That’s because Electric Picnic is just around the corner, less than two weeks away.
While Ireland is lucky to play host to a wealth of cool festival options, enough surely to satisfy all tastes and desires, Electric Picnic remains the marquee festival event drawing crowds of every kind from every corner of the country. While naysayers are a staple of its social media comment section, Picnic’s lineups have depth in quality not matched anywhere else in the country. Whether it be in the Cosby tent or all the way out at the Salty Dog, the weekend at Stradbally is the perfect chance to discover some of the most exciting new artists.
Here’s our top ten new international artists on this year’s lineup.
Hailing from Halifax and comprised of sisters Esme and Sidonie Hand plus their mutual friend Henry Wade, The Orielles are an indie band with plenty of disco and psychedelic influences thrown into the mix. Their debut album Silver Dollar Moment is one of the best guitar music releases of the year. Full of tight grooves, like the bass line in ‘Old Stuff, New Glass’, and stellar vocal hooks the album has that youthful magic groups only get in their early releases.
Fans of groups like Tame Impala, Melody’s Echo Chamber or even Mac DeMarco are gonna love The Orielles. Though it’s easy to imagine that the group’s easy disposition and melodic songwriting will have a wide appeal. Don’t miss them.
Part of the emerging wave of contemporary pop artists, bülow‘s music scores a ton of points for personality and creativity. Whereas some artists with a similar sound, Lorde comes to mind, have distilled the majority of their own humanity from the music in the interest of mass appeal, bülow has doubled down on it. Her music is unapologetic and often, if not always, in your face. With subject matter akin to a diary entry, it’s difficult to not be completely won over by the artist’s sincerity.
Her past two EP releases, Damaged Volumes 1 & 2 have birthed multiple charting singles. Newcomers should check out ‘Honor Roll’ and ‘Not A Love Song’, both of which are examples of modern pop music at its very best. With the right marketing and the obligatory breakthrough single it’s easy to imagine bülow becoming a sensation, why not catch her before that happens?
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Most of you will probably take one look at Colter Wall and think “not for me”. You’re dead wrong. Wall’s songwriting is among the most universally moving and evocative as any other entry on this list.
Using the classic Nashville idiom, Wall’s music is flush with anecdotal material and haunting imagery. Somehow, despite having a voice like sun-baked dirt, Wall is a mere 23 years old. His lyrics too, showcase an artist wise well beyond his years. Check out ‘Plain To See Plainsman’ and ‘Codeine Dream’ for the best introduction.
Time now for some mellowed out chamber pop. Yellow Days, a Manchester native, has been steadily creating colourful indie music over the past few years. His most recent release, ‘The Way Things Change’ deals with mental health issues without ever losing the playfulness which characterises so much of his music. Imagine fluffy synth sounds and reverb-drenched guitars riffs to go with them and you have a decent idea.
His 2017 Is Everything Okay In Your World? is among the best indie releases of last year and won the hearts of fans all over the world. There’s a strong appeal in how the artist goes about his songwriting, effortlessly sticking in your head. It’s charming, catchy and a sure bet to go check out in Stradbally.
Performing at the Other Voices stage at Electric Picnic comes with its own expectations. Despite having been a very late addition to the festival’s set-up, the stage has earned a reputation of being well ahead of the curve, especially in its few international bookings. Going by studio material alone, it seems the organisers have outdone themselves this year with Halo Maud.
The French group are fresh from the release of their debut album Je Suis Une île, an outstanding psychedelic rock record. The band have positioned themselves right at the forefront of that genre’s revival, spurred on by acts like Tame Impala, Temples and Melodies Echo Chamber. Spacey synths and seriously catchy vocal hooks are the order of the day here. Newcomers should jump straight into ‘Surprise’ and ‘Wherever’ for a taster of what the group sound like. Music so good that the language barrier just doesn’t’ matter.
Kai Gundelach’s journey to the synthwave-inspired style of music he currently makes was born in Oslo’s club scene, where he worked as a DJ. After deciding to try his own hand at songwriting, he released his debut album Baltus early this year. It’s a superb release from top to bottom. There’s definitely a strong 80s influence, whether in the hyperactive pop chorus or the heavy use of arpeggiators. Album highlights include ‘Duck Hunting’ and ‘Games’.
Despite the melancholy tone of the majority of Gundelach’s material there always remains a strong dance element to his music, most likely due his time spend DJing. Bearing this in mind, his performance at Stradbally is going to be an ideal time to throw a few of those special shapes you’ve been practising. Go get em tiger.
22-year-old Ynxg Bane is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge out of the SoundCloud boom. With an R&B styling, combining elements of hip-hop and dancehall too, Bane’s music will have an easy mass appeal. It’s easy to imagine his laid back material going down a treat in sunshine.
Bane had a huge role in D-Block Europe’s Any Minute Now, one of the most exciting dancehall releases of the year. Newcomers should check out ‘Flights’ from that project. Go check out Yxng Bane if you wanna hear what’s about to breakthrough from the British underground right now.
Another 22-year-old from London, you’re not the only one who can see a trend begin to develop here, Nilüfer Yanya’s brand of downer indie rock will feel right at home for fans of acts like King Krule or Cigarettes After Sex. With a strong introspective edge, Yanya’s lyrics can often stray close to the bone. A redeeming quality for sure, especially considering how evolved her content is despite being in the early stages of her career.
There’s definitely a moody undertone to Yanya’s released material. Her latest ‘Do You Like Pain?’ double-single release sounds almost like music as catharsis. ‘Thanks 4 Nothing’, the second track on that release, is the perfect introduction for any new listeners. Melancholy in spots, but always retaining a sense of witty self-awareness. The music dips in spells, only to catch its self before it gets too caught up in self-pity. Go check out her set for some fresh indie pop from an interesting perspective.
22-year-old London-based dancehall artist Tom Tripp has been quickly establishing himself as one of the most intelligent and empathetic young artists in England’s capital. A quick listen to ‘Medusa’, his latest single will quickly illustrate the point. Sleek dancehall grooves and Tripp’s autotuned croonings are the name of the game here. Channelling artists like The Weeknd has given Tripp plenty of radio appeal but music heads will find plenty to enjoy in the intricate and clever production approach in his material.
Perhaps it’s because Tripp began, was discovered and grew out of essentially self-producing in his bedroom but his music retains an unsanitised element. A rarity in the arena and genre which he operates in. Listen to some of the strange dissonances in his 2017 hit ‘Pamela’ and you’ll come to realise that Tripp is the real deal, not some PR statement.
Born in Tehran and raised in Rotterdam, Sevdaliza is by far the most experimental artist on our list. Since the release of The Suspended Kid, her first EP in 2015, Sevdaliza has steadily worked to develop an art-pop idiom which emulates artists like Little Dragon and Bjork at their very best. Her most recent single release ‘Humana’ showcases exactly why the artist made it onto our list. Brimming with suspense, helped in no small part by the ominous synth chords and glitchy drum loops, the track is hair-raising while somehow retaining the ghost of the pop tradition.
Signed to her own Twisted Elegance label, Sevdaliza is an artist undaunted by the prospect of sonic exploration and innovation. Her most recent EP, The Calling, showcases a huge variety of sounds, themes and genres. As such, it’s probably the best place for new listeners to delve into her work. Expect the weird and the wonderful during her Picnic performance.